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Telephonist Switchboard operator

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Telephonists, or switchboard operators, answer and connect calls and take messages.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £12,000 to £24,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements, but some GCSEs or equivalent, especially English, may help. Basic computer skills and admin experience can be useful.

Many further education colleges and training providers offer introductory courses in call centre and customer service techniques.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship

You may have an advantage if you speak a foreign language or have an awareness of telephony systems.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • good hearing and a clear telephone voice
  • a confident and polite telephone manner
  • the ability to work quickly and accurately under pressure
  • a good standard of spoken and written English
  • basic computer and keyboard skills
  • excellent customer care skills
  • the ability to deal with difficult calls in a calm and professional manner
  • an awareness of confidentiality issues

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day tasks will vary with the type of organisation you work for, but may include:

  • answering and connecting calls using a computerised switchboard system
  • testing lines and reporting faults
  • updating directories
  • taking and passing on messages
  • carrying out basic administration tasks
  • working in a team with ‘front of house’ staff

Your role may be combined with other administration and receptionist duties.

4. Salary

Starter: £12,000

Experienced: £17,000 to £24,000

Some jobs pay an hourly rate of £7 to £9.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll normally work 35 to 40 hours a week. Part-time, evening, weekend and shift work is common.

You may be based in an office or call centre, or in the reception area of an organisation. If you meet members of the public, you’ll be expected to dress smartly.

6. Career path and progression

With experience you may be able to become a call centre manager. You may also move into related areas of work as an administrator, personal assistant (PA), supervisor, customer services or quality assurance manager.

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Last updated: 13 September 2018